Chapel Hill pets: Waging, slithering and smiling their way into our hearts

By Trent Brown

Captain Jack Sparrow from “Pirates of the Caribbean” and Negan’s baseball bat named “Lucille” from “The Walking Dead” aren’t usually mentioned in the same breath. However, in the white house on the corner of Lindsay Street, they’re talked about together all the time.

Jacqueline “Jackie” Lucille, a Havanese dog, is one of the many pets owned by a UNC student that you might come across while walking through campus on a sunny afternoon, taking a trip to the outdoor patio at He’s Not Here or even in classrooms. She makes her own case for being one of the most special pets in Chapel Hill.

Jackie enjoys walking around UNC’s campus. (Photo by Hannah Bultman)

Physically, Jackie doesn’t hold a lot of common characteristics with her namesakes. Standing less than 1 foot tall and no more than 4 inches wide, the tiny mound of fur greets anyone who enters the door with her toothy smile and a bark (or two!). However, it only takes about 10 seconds—or even less if you pet her fast enough—for Jackie to become a friend of yours. She likes to skip the acquaintance stage.

Jackie is affectionately referred to as “little cow” by her owner’s friends, due to her white fur covered in black inkblots on both of her ears and down her back. She roams around the room like she’s on a mission to find something—probably attention—abiding by her attention-seeking namesake Jack Sparrow. It’s easy to see why Hannah Bultman, the owner of this bright little pup, keeps her around.

For the past year or so, Jackie has kept Bultman company in their crowded two-story house, after her brother bought the dog and found that he could not take care of her. Bultman decided that she would gladly take in and support the dog; but support isn’t just what Bultman does for Jackie—it’s what Jackie provides for Bultman.

Bultman registered Jackie as an emotional support dog this past year, because the puppy does exactly that for her. “I’m a very introverted person, and I like being alone,” said Bultman. “But Jackie makes it a little more possible to be alone. She’s been really good for me.”

According to the American College Health Association, nearly one in six college students struggle with anxiety. Although there are many ways to cope with anxiety, for Bultman, a chemistry and Spanish major, there is no better way than the presence of a dog, big or small, that just wants to get attention, and maybe give a little back.

And that’s Jackie. She doesn’t like to fetch balls, but instead mashed-down plastic Mountain Dew bottles, or really whatever she can fit her mouth around—even if she really can’t. Occasionally, she will take things from Bultman’s roommates’ rooms and bring it to her Butlman’s door, as a gift. She also finds herself at almost every chapter meeting at UNC’s Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity, making it more enjoyable for everyone there.

Don’t bring out a balloon though, or you’ll have to coax her out from under the bed. It won’t take too long for her to get her to bounce back to her normal exuberance—a blissful bounce at that.

 Mac, the snake charmer

“I told my mom I wanted a pony or a snake,” said Mac Harrison, now in her third year at UNC, recalling what kind of pet she wanted for her birthday five years ago.

The 4-foot long albino corn snake named Tyrell finds his home in a large tank at Harrison’s house. He’s a good boy, or girl, in Harrison’s eyes, who, due to the ambiguity and difficulty of determining a snake’s sex, has relied on a gut feeling that her pet is a Tyrell and not a Tyreisha.

Unlike a Jackie, or most any kind of furry friend for that matter, Tyrell doesn’t have a conventional personality. However, Harrison is certain that he does have one, and it’s one that loves to spend time with her.

And although you may never see Tyrell getting taken for a walk through McCorkle Place on campus, you might find Tyrell at home watching television with his owner, because that’s his personal favorite pastime. Snuggled inside her hair or arms, because snakes don’t like to sit—they like to hide.

Harrison and Tyrell love to cuddle. (Photo by Mac Harrison)

Beginning next year, Harrison will have her snake with her in Chapel Hill at her apartment, because her current dorm does not allow tanks like Tyrell’s, and she cannot wait. The slithery not-so-little guy with orange skin, who only requires food once per month in the shape of a frozen mouse, and shows his affection by simply laying on you, will surely be treated like a king during his time in Chapel Hill.

“I wrap him around my neck like a little scarf and he just hangs out,” said Harrison, as her eyes glistened, longing to be back with her boy.

Capturing cuteness

It started with a fun idea between two friends.

Alex Kormann and Isabel Donnolo asked each other: “Why don’t we start one of those dog Instagram accounts?” The @DogsOfUNC Instagram account began during FallFest in 2016, and now has over 1,700 followers, mostly comprised of UNC students.

The Instagram account’s process is fairly simple. Kormann or Donnolo will notice a dog in the quad, or somewhere else on campus, and they’ll ask the owner: “Hi, can I take a picture of your dog?” Recently they have even begun taking requests for short photo shoots on campus with dogs.

Kormann noted that, interestingly enough, he has yet to be turned down after asking to photograph someone’s dog. He always gets an excited “yes.”

Each dog portrait is then posted to the Instagram account, usually with a short caption of their name and their age, and accumulates over 400 likes at a time. It’s not about the internet fame for the photographers, but more so the catharsis of the process.

In the mix of being a photography major and doing other work, Kormann said that taking pictures of dogs is a “therapeutic way to keep on keeping on.”

Simba strolling through UNC’s lower quad. (Photo by @DogsOfUNC)

The photos come with a bit of fun, too. The picture of Simba, one of the account’s most “liked” puppy, was likely the most memorable photoshoot for Kormann. The little 8-week-old golden retriever ran around for over 20 minutes in the campus’ lower quad, with Kormann trailing behind, never stopping to offer a still shot for a picture. Finally, the puppy stopped, squatted and peed, before finally laying down and submitting to all photography needs.

“The memorability is definitely in the cuteness,” Kormann said, with a laugh.

 

Edited by Liz Chen

The third annual Fairy House Festival: A fairytale fit for all

By Jess Gaul

A stone path leads to a small cottage dusted in purple, near a quiet pond at River Park North in Greenville, North Carolina.

Little girls and boys wearing sparkly fairy wings gathered sticks and leaves in a wooded area speckled with sunlight.

As visitors of the park hiked, fished and kayaked, several dozen children made preparations for the magical visitors—no smartphones, iPads or any other screens in sight.

At the third annual Fairy House Festival on Saturday, Feb. 24,—which had originally been scheduled to include a campfire and hot chocolate—the weather was so warm that most children wore short sleeves and shorts.

“We definitely took advantage of the time of year,” said park attendant Caethe Vance.

Real-life fairies

Sitting on round stumps, children listened to park attendant Andrew Wimsatt read “Fairy Houses” by Tracy Kane.

Just as the main character of the book sees a beautiful monarch butterfly in the forest, a toddler, wearing monarch fairy wings, tumbled forward.

The other kids were not distracted. They were captivated—by the story, by the sunlight and by the possibility that fairies might move into the homes built for them.

Child architects

At a drawing station, a blonde girl and her mother made textured designs on construction paper using rocks and crayons.

“It’s kind of just a cute way of getting kids into nature as we move into these warmer months of the year,” said Wimsatt. “It’s like the awakening of the park for spring.”

Each fairy house was uniquely designed, from towering teepee structures to tiny bungalows. Most houses leaned against trees as an effort to shelter their winged inhabitants.

5-year-old Beni Florero pieced together his fairy house of sticks and shells all on his own. Despite his accomplishment, his shyness prevented him from posing for a photo.

“I saw the posting on Facebook, and we’re always looking for stuff to do in Greenville,” Melissa Bump, Beni’s mother, said. “It sounded fun and the weather’s been good.”

The impact of the outdoors

Vance, one of the organizers of the event, said that getting kids to do things like creating fairy houses will help to continue the positive trend of a growing interest in outdoor activities.

“We want tomorrow’s children to get outside today, so they can encourage everyone around them,” said Vance.

Vance said that unsupervised nature play allows kids to get in touch with natural elements on their own.

Detail is everything

Parents made suggestions about which stick to use, how tall the house should be or if leaves will make a nice decoration.

7-year-old Raye Wade sprinkled her fairy house creation with green chalk as a finishing touch. Her mother and grandmother help her add pine cones for a fireplace and trees.

“It’s always fun to get out and do something outside—and it’s a beautiful day,” Raye’s mother, Liz Wade, said. “Fairy houses seemed like a really fun idea for her. She’s very creative so I think she’d like something like this.”

Does the colorful chalk dust attract potential fairy tenants?

“I don’t know,” replied the 7-year-old.

“She’s very practical,” Liz said with a laugh.

Wimsatt said learning how plants and animals interact in nature is valuable, and that not all learning can take place indoors.

“I think it’s important for kids to enjoy (nature) versus always just sitting in front of a computer, because not everything is going to be found there,” Wimsatt said. “You have to experience things.”

Park attendant Wimsatt confirmed the presence of magic at the park.

“Of course I believe in fairies!” he said.

Rumor has it that fairies moved into the houses during sunset on Saturday evening.

Edited by Liz Chen

Dodging bludgers: Here’s how UNC Quidditch qualified for the World Cup

The UNC-CH Quidditch team attend the 2018 Quidditch World Cup in Round Rock, Texas.

Everyone cringed on the sideline, as they watched Justin Cole’s face get trampled by a stampede of cleats. The referee rushed out onto the pitch, blowing his whistle in sporadic chirps, calling for a halt to the game. Picking himself off the ground, and relying on walking support from the sport medics, Cole revealed his bloody eye to the silent crowd.

This injury marked the beginning of a sequence of unfortunate events for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Quidditch team at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. They would experience three additional concussions, and the well below freezing temperatures of a northern winter, in following day and a half of the competition.

Why would 21 Carolina students endure these conditions for a sport based on the Harry Potter franchise? The answer differs from person to person, however, the following four stories share a common theme of playing because of the bonds formed with other teammates.

Sam Doughton: Beater and Chaser

Lounging on the sofa in his family’s living room, a teenage Sam Doughton watched “CBS Sunday Morning.” On the television screen, college students nationwide were shown riding white plastic pipes, or PVC pipes, and throwing a volleyball into hoops during fast-paced and contact-heavy Quidditch matches. It was this moment that Doughton said he became certain of two things: “I had to go to a college with a journalism school and a Quidditch team,” said Doughton. “So I applied to UNC.”

Four years later, Doughton weaved through the crowd at FallFest, UNC-Chapel Hill’s annual club and organizations fair.

“First thing that I did, [after] getting out of convocation, was walk straight to the Quidditch table,” said Doughton. “I really wanted to get involved. I just loved Harry Potter, and it seemed like the type of people that I would like to be around.”

Over his six semesters on the team, Doughton has played as a beater, using bludgers (deflated dodgeballs) to disrupt other players, and a chaser, using the quaffle (volleyball) to score points by throwing it through three hoops. In addition, he has also become a certified referee for U.S. Quidditch. This has allowed him to travel.

“The coolest thing about the Quidditch community, for me, is the opportunity to go to these other colleges, and meet people from across the country. Sometimes, there are players from all around the world,” said Doughton.

Louis Torres Tailfer: Beater

After coming to America, Louis Torres Tailfer, a “Star Wars” fan, was determined to trade in his lightsaber for a broomstick. However, what he did not expect was to fall in love during the process.

“I really like ‘Star Wars,’ but unfortunately, UNC doesn’t have a lightsaber dueling club,” said Tailfer. “Luckily, I found an equally nerdy, but challenging sport in Quidditch.”

As the lights dimmed on Hooker Fields, Tailfer felt a tap on his shoulder while leaving his first practice. Turning around, he found the shadowed figure of a blond woman that he had talked to during team introductions. She asked if he could walk her home, considering it was 11:30 p.m.

This moment of fate blossomed into a routine. After every practice, they walked home together. Often speaking as late as 4 a.m. on her dorm’s front steps, they learned they shared a lot of the same interests.

The only difference between them was that he lived in France, and she lived in America.

“I was not going to allow the distance to be a factor,” Tailfer said, “I was convinced we had met each other for a reason. I am a strong believer in the concepts of soulmates, and mine just happened to be halfway around the world at a Quidditch practice.”

Looking back, Tailfer said that meeting his girlfriend was the best thing to come out of being on the team.

Annie McDarris: Chaser

Annie McDarris joined the UNC-Chapel Hill Quidditch team to stay active, and as a joke. She anticipated a bunch of gawky students gabbing about Harry Potter in the middle of a field. If anything, she thought she would have a good laugh.

It did not take long however, for her to appreciate the athletic skill the game required and lifelong friendships she would make.

“It is a legitimate sport,” said McDarris. “We get tackled a lot. It is definitely intense being a girl, because you can get slammed to the ground by a 6-foot guy. Meanwhile, you are getting hit by bludgers.”

Thus, it comes as a great shock to her that she has not been severely injured yet. Regardless, she continues to play, because she has found a second family in her teammates.

“I feel like we are always there for each other. If someone posts that they need a ride to the airport, there will be like three responses offering to pick them up as early as 3 a.m,” said McDarris.

Though her classmates occasionally raise an eyebrow when McDarris tells them that she is heading off to Quidditch practice, she no longer finds herself laughing. Instead, she is confident to be a part of the sport that has a dash of magic, as she proudly mounts her PVC pipe with her closest friends.

Gabriella Williams: Beater

Gabriella Williams wrote her admissions essay for UNC-Chapel Hill about Harry Potter, so it comes as no surprise that she would want to play a sport based on her favorite novels.

However, Williams said that the appeal of being on a Quidditch team expands beyond simply playing the game. As a sociology major, Williams said she appreciated that it was co-ed sport that furthered gender equality.

“The Quidditch community, in general, strives for having team diversity. This really appealed to me,” Williams said.

In addition, Williams is on the executive board of the UNC-Chapel Hill Quidditch team. She claims that their biggest challenge is moving the sport away from just being an aspect of the Harry Potter franchise.

For example, actors from the films, such as Evanna Lynch (who plays Luna Lovegood), used to attend the World Cup. As appreciated as these appearances were, many were concerned that they were weakening the athletic credibility of Quidditch. Therefore, there have been efforts to reduce the number of such invitations to tournaments.

World Cup-bound 

It is the end of the second day of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship, and the UNC-Chapel Hill team is waiting anxiously in the gravel parking lot next to the frost-covered fields. Sam Doughton said that despite their many losses due to injuries, they may still have a chance of making the 2018 World Cup in Round Rock, Texas.

All they needed was for one team to score a slightly less then they did, and they would make it in the lowest bracket.

Crushing the last bit of heat out of her hand-warming packets, Williams looked at her team sitting in the trunks of cars. Even if they returned without victory, she would be proud of them.

Suddenly, Cole, with his eye-patch, came over the hill. Doughton followed closely behind.

“Sam said we made it!” Cole said enthusiastically, “We barely did, but we made it! You crazy nerds are going to nationals in May!”

 

Edited by Liz Chen.